London is among the oldest continuously occupied cities around the world. It owes its foundation to the Romans, who invaded Britain in AD 43. This natural riverside crossing point attracted their attention as an ideal place to create a new city, which they named Londinium.
Visitors to the newly opened London Mithraeum at Walbrook near the Bank of England are now able to see the first ever mention of the name of London. Archaeologists working on the site prior to the building of the new Bloomberg headquarters discovered an ancient writing tablet dating back to AD 70, which refers to Londinium. An even older tablet from AD 43 shows how commerce and banking quickly took a major role in the life of the new city. The tablet is quite simply, an IOU for money lending.
Free to enter, the London Mithraeum is a fascinating place to visit while a resident at any of the affordable Aparthotels in Kensington. It is one of only a handful of temples to the Roman god Mithras that are known exist within Europe. The site was discovered during bomb site clearances after the Second World War, attracting thousands of people keen to see these archaeological remains. Unfortunately, the remains were then dug up and removed.
When Bloomberg was given permission to build a new European headquarters on the site, it provided an opportunity to return this incredible monument to its original home.
Staying in any of the nearby Holiday Apartments London makes it easy for you to visit the Mithraeum which is truly a walk through history. You start in a contemporary art gallery, in which the archaeological site influences the works of art on display. Then head downstairs, through the layers of history passing from modern times, through two world wars, the Victorians, Georgians, Tudors and Medieval London until eventually you reach the 4th century AD when the Mithraeum was built in a Roman householder’s back garden.
Darkness greets you as you enter the Mithraeum. Slowly the lights begin to rise, with tall columns of light appearing out of the gloom indicating the sheer scale of this magnificent temple. Voices are heard chanting in Latin, performing rituals to the god Mithras. A hazy mist encompasses everything. It is incredibly eerie and atmospheric.
Afterwards, you can stroll around the ruins which mark the perimeter of the Mithraeum, and even step through the entrance way just as worshippers would have done nearly two thousand years ago. It is quite a large building, and all the archaeological remains have been laid out just as they were when first discovered in the 1940’s.
So, book a stay at the Presidential Apartments Kensington and enjoy your visit to Mithraeum.